Madeleine Floyd studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. She went on to study fashion design before graduating from Camberwell College of Art and Design, London in Fine Art and Graphic Design.
Madeleine paints, illustrates, prints, writes, designs, licenses and exhibits her work around the world. She works mainly in oils, watercolours and ink but also adapts to whatever medium feels appropriate to a project. Our Artist Manager, Aretha Campbell recently spoke to Madeleine about her career, influences and projects.
You originally studied fashion design, what made you change to study fine art at Camberwell?
Actually first of all I studied History of Art at The Courtauld Institute, University of London but then I decided I wanted to go and learn how to be a fashion designer
so I worked for 2 years with a small Couture house before then going on to do a degree at Camberwell School of Art, London where I studied Fine Art and Illustration.
What is your favourite time of the day to be in your studio?
To be honest anytime that I can get in the studio is always great. My studio is on the top floor of our house so it’s easy to sneak up here late at night or before anyone else has woken up. What I love best of all is when I get a clear run over a whole day up here with no interruptions.. enough time to get messy with some oil paints.
You firmly established as both an illustrator, writer, printmaker and painter how do your different practices influence one another?
I must admit it was never a deliberate plan of mine and I sometimes question whether I should try and train myself to be less of a butterfly and more of a one track pony but I think we are what we are and I’ve always loved taking on new challenges. When I first left college I think it threw people a bit that I was both an illustrator and a painter and as a result I used to sometimes try and keep the two separate in my portfolio but increasingly it seems that people are more comfortable these days in viewing a creative as a whole and being creative I always found it strange to only go down one path. I think each practice brings a slightly different approach and quality to the subject matter but at the end of the day they are all coming from the same mind and hand
so I no longer see them as separate entities.
What was the first book you both wrote and illustrated, and how did that come together?
My first book was an easy labour of love in that it was a very simple picture book about our cat called Captain’s Purr. Captain adopted us and moved into our first house by the river soon after we got married. He was quite an independent cat and seemed to have a real air of mystery and authority. We wondered where he roamed at night and so I wrote a simple story about what it is that lies behind a cat’s purr and where this particular handsome tom cat might be going at night. I was lucky in that my agent at the time took the scribbled text and a couple of illustrations out to Bologna book fair and he returned with a few publishers competing over the rights.
I worked with a wonderful publisher called Judith Eliot at Orion Children’s books. She gave me a very trusting
free rein to get both the story and the artwork exactly how I saw it in my mind’s eye. The entire production was a pleasure start to finish and I owe a lot to her encouragement and experience at letting a book come to life without too much interference.
You have worked with an amazingingly diverse selection of clients, what projects have you most enjoyed?
That’s a really hard one to answer. There have been so many different types of commision. I love the contrast between some of them; from squashing myself into a pig pen
to draw pigs close for some food packaging to taking tea and a private garden tour around the gardens at Highgrove in order to design their advent calendar and christmas cards.
It’s always fun when the projects involve travel - I was lucky to have one of my Fine Art exhibitions sponsored by a beautiful luxury resort in Jamaica which involved a couple of trips out there
to illustrate the resort - that didn’t feel like work! I also really enjoy the process of painting and portrait commissions getting under the skin of the client and figuring out how best to fit my creativity to their needs.
Finally, if you could invite 6 people to dinner who would it be?
Hmmm that one is not so easy…I am wondering if they need to be alive...! Assuming they do how about (in addition to myself and my husband Michael):
Chris Martin, Gyles Brandreth and Greg James - all of whom make me laugh!
Elizabeth Blackadder, Helena Christensen and Kate Bush for some beauty, talent and inspiration.
Not sure that mix would work but the photos would be good!
Discover our full collection of Madeleine Floyd's work on Bridgeman Images here.
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